Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

July 27, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 7:56 am on Monday, July 27, 2009

Today concludes our stay in Ennis, MT. where we have had memorable adventures, their details to be recalled on quiet afternoons after returning home. Yesterday we drove up a narrow and bumpy dirt track to a wild and rugged mountainside place to picnic in the absolute stillness of a nearly uninhabited world. Here our friend Paul had hung a swing on a weathered pine branch, and from this place, the vastness of the sky and the mountain range on the far side of the green valley could be enjoyed as though one were part of a living diorama. The space around us had struggling grasses, occasional cacti and wild flowers coming up around huge and diverse rocks covered with beautiful patterns of lichen in rust, white, black, and many shades of green. Some of the trees had died, so their dramatic weathered shapes framed different aspects of the scenery. A pair of Clark’s Nutcracker birds kept us company and their harsh cries were the only sounds that broke into the absolute stillness. We all agreed that the loudest sounds were those heard in our own heads as we enjoyed the eating and drinking of the picnic viands.

This landscape appears endless and the sky’s ever-changing cloud patterns make the earth below them dynamic in the constant regrouping of light and shadow. Today we had a brunch at a lovely little house in the center of a mountain meadow filled with wild flowers, again in a place where the views were without end. As we walked about to examine the intricacies of the flowers, we were told that the mounds and holes were made by “whistling pigs” which I believe are small creatures also known as pica. Apparently these sweeping high meadows that are so enchanting at this season of the year become incredibly cold, snowy and wind whipped in the winter; a snow mobile that stood waiting beside the gateway leading up the long lane to the house spoke volumes.

We will not linger long before returning home. It is more challenging physically to do things, and a lesser body is carrying me around. I try to remember everything that I see and hear, and enjoy all the beautiful creation that is so varied and abundant. God’s imagination is truly beyond anything that I can comprehend, and I have seen a very small portion of the whole. After I die, perhaps my spirit will do the “world tour” and that will surely be very grand!

July 24, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 1:26 pm on Friday, July 24, 2009

We left on our road trip on Tuesday morning, Alpie in mourning because he is staying at Sanctuary in the care of a Concordia student who has agreed to live at our house looking after him as well as the birds, fish and flowers. The first day’s drive ended at a little cabin in the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. In this place, there were jagged, white other-worldly formations of ancient volcanic ash with only a few plants struggling to live at their bases, and where the signs saying “Beware the Rattlesnakes” were prominently displayed. These depicted a large, ready to strike snake, and we were very inclined to stay on the center part of the path. At a trailhead called “The Window”, a woman with three teens wished to have herself and two of them standing next to one of the signs, with the rock formations in the background. She seemed tired, shrill, and impatient as she instructed the boy with the camera just how he had to include the sign and peaks in back of them in the photo; it was easy to imagine that she was crafting the story that she would tell when she returned home, about how they went on anyway, in spite of the snakes that were everywhere – how one of the boys nearly stepped on one, etc., etc. On another path we met a family from Italy. It is always a surprise to meet people from other countries in these very remote places so many miles from anywhere at all.

After driving over a thousand miles, we arrived at our destination yesterday afternoon, and within the first several hours, we experienced high winds, a wonderful wild storm, then calm, and sightings of bald eagles and osprey with their young out over the river. A stand of very tall cottonwood trees is nearby, and many yellow and purple finch, black-headed grosbeak and Brewer’s blackbirds appear to make their homes there. Our friends have wren houses everywhere, and all of them are occupied, so the river sounds and the bird sounds are wonderful.

This morning I look out the window to view the Madison River in the foreground and the Madison mountain range beyond. A man is fishing in the river, and it looks as though he is coaxing something into his net to remove the hook and line. People come to fish for trout, however, it is “catch and release” at this time. There are white faced angus cattle grazing on the water’s edge on the near side – our hosts tell us the cows and calves come across from their ranch home to munch for the day. The old saw “The grass is always greener on the other side” is alive and operational on this splendid July day in Montana.

July 14, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 11:33 am on Thursday, July 16, 2009

It’s high summer in Sanctuary with 90° temperatures and 87% humidity. The whole place is lush, overgrown, and not yet looking weary and dry, though that will come soon since rains have eluded us in the past weeks and the ground beneath all the green is getting grey and cracked. There are literally thousands of residents on the forty, most of them living very quietly, keeping their lives secret from the humans and dogs that come past. There are fox, skunks, turtles, raccoons, chipmunks, field mice, voles, moles, snakes, frogs, toads, and many species of insects – the list goes on and on. Those that we do notice are the mosquitoes, ticks, squirrels, rabbits and birds. Alphie will occasionally trip over a snake as it lies curled in the grasses or under pasture brush, and this causes him to leap backward and go quickly on his way for reptiles are not his prey of choice.

The gardens are full of lilies now, and the great plate-sized elderberry blooms are everywhere, even in the hedgerows, looking like bouquets set in to give a bit of color. The days pass quickly with morning walks and gardening for me, music composition and practicing of the organ for Charles and general care and upkeep of this place for both of us. The mouth sores have diminished greatly; when my primary care doctor did the checkup he said, “The paste worked! What a bonus!” I thought, “Bonus??” Anything less than great improvement had never occurred to me. I have energy for living, and we are planning another road trip westward and into the mountains. Life goes on, and it is good.

July 7, 2009

Filed under: — Constance at 6:07 pm on Tuesday, July 7, 2009

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Today is a day for contemplating the landscape of our culture as thoughts move from Russia, where world leaders discuss the fate of millions, through Los Angeles where an icon of the musical world is being memorialized by vast numbers of people this very hour. It is highly unlikely that someone from either place will ever give a thought to, or place a foot upon this soil that I call “Sanctuary”. Beginning with Charles and myself, moving past Alphie, the fox in the yard yesterday, the doe and her fawns this morning and the gathering of birds sending their fledges off into the world, I believe this to be very acceptable to all of us who reside here. A single living thing is contained in a very small space, after all, and only a few remarkable people and/or events will alter the course of history. Whether today’s activities will season the future remains to be seen.

This last week I began hosting “leukemic mouth sores”, which are certainly in the league of “mother of all mouth sores” making the typical canker sore quite mundane by comparison. Tiny little holes appeared through the roof of the mouth, and these seemed to permit direct access to the internal structures of the face. At the start of this novel way to be sick, I realized that anything that had any kind of flavor or texture would send shock waves through my entire jaw, so I began a diet of water and Pedialite/frozen yogurt and cantaloupe. The melon didn’t seem to elicit the same reaction as berries, peaches, or other fruits. The doctor gave me a material (triamcinolone acetonide) that resembles wallpaper paste that adheres to the wet surface of the mouth while delivering corticosteroid to the tissues. Improvement is very slow in coming, though now I am able to eat more foods again. Other than that, I have some energy, Charles makes me laugh, Alphie is a real dog, and I can’t complain.

“A time to be born, and a time to die . . .a time to kill, and a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance. . .a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. . . a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war, and a time for peace.” (excerpted from Ecc. 3:2-8)